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B. POLEVOI

weight of his body upon it he placed one foot and then
the "other on the snow and turned from the road, moving
forward with difficulty but resolutely.

10

That day he did not even make a hundred and fifty
paces over the snow. Dusk compelled him to halt. Again
he picked out an old tree stump, piled dry brushwood
around it, unwrapped his cartridge cigarette lighter,
jerked the little steel wheel, jerked it again—and turned
cold; the lighter had run dry. He shook it, blew into it in
the endeavour to quicken the last remnants of gas, but in
vain. Night fell The sparks that flew from the flint like
flashes of lightning parted for an instant the gloom
around his face. He kept jerking the wheel until the flint
was completely worn out, but he failed to get any fire.
He had to grope his way to a clump of young pine-
trees, huddle up, rest his chin on his knees, clasp his knees
with his hands and sit silently listening to the rustling
of the forest. He might have dropped into despair that
night, but in the slumbering forest the sound of artillery
fire was even more distinct and it seemed to him that
he was even able to distinguish the sharp reports of
the shots from the longer booms of the exploding
shells.
He woke up in the morning with an unaccountable
sensation of alarm and grief. At once he asked himself:
"What was it? A bad dream?" He remembered: the
cigarette lighter. But warmed by the kindly rays of the
sun, with everything around—the slushy snow, the trunks
of the^ trees, and even the pine-needles—shining and
glistening—he took a less serious view of this misfortune.
But something worse happened. Unclasping his numbed
hands, he found that he could not get up. After several
attempts to rise he broke his forked staff and collapsed to
the ground like a sack. He rolled over on his back to
rest his swollen limbs and gazed through the pine
branches at the infinite blue sky, across which white,
fluffy clouds, with curly golden edges, were hurrying.
His body gradually came to, but something had happened
to his legs. They could not bear him even for a moment.